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Guest Teachers Build Mindful Schools

Guest Teachers Build Mindful Schools
Posted on 12/06/2017
“I was waiting in the car because my mom was running late and I was getting so angry at her for making me late to school so I did some mindful breathing. When my mom finally drove me to school we had a nice time together.” –CPS 5th Grader

MindfulnessOver the last several years, mindfulness - the skill of bringing awareness to what is happening right now with curiosity and kindness – has been gaining a footing in CPS through grassroots efforts. A few parents asked their children’s teachers about offering mindfulness programming in their classes. Health Education/SEL Program Leader, Kim DeAndrade has been offering mindfulness and yoga movement breaks professional development to CPS staff in all schools. As teachers and counselors began seeking out more training and resources, it became clear that interest in mindfulness education was growing.

To meet the growing demand, Social Emotional Learning Lead Teacher Alice Cohen obtained grant funding to create four part-time Mindfulness Guest Teacher positions, to teach an eight-week Mindful Schools curriculum at King Open, Morse, Cambridgeport, Fletcher Maynard, Haggerty, Dr, Martin Luther King, Graham & Parks, Baldwin, Amigos, Tobin, and the High School Extension Program. The guest teachers are Gabriel Baldwin, Natalia Cepeda, Laura Indigo, and Beatriz Meza-Valencia.

MindfulnessMindful Schools provides frequent, short lessons that allow students to practice foundational mindfulness skills, share how they have been using mindfulness in their lives, and learn new ways to use mindfulness. Simultaneously, teachers receive coaching in how to lead mindfulness exercises after the curriculum has concluded. The class has been adapted to be offered bilingually at Amigos, and to meet the unique needs of the English Language Learner classes at Graham & Parks and the Autism Spectrum program at King Open. The guest teachers have also provided training to King Open staff, during All Staff meetings.

Still in its first year, the program is showing great signs of success and feedback has been very positive. In the words of one teacher, “I loved this program. Really helps students and teachers cope with anxiety. Great way to encourage focusing without making them focus.” A CPS 2nd Grader agrees, explaining, “Mindfulness has helped me focus better in the classroom and calm down when I am so sad.”